Andrew Fallshaw and Hadrien Monloup have plenty in common.
They are both geeks, both love bags and accessories and both come from design backgrounds – Andrew from industrial and furniture design and Hadrien from personal accessories.
In 2009, Andrew and Hadrien were wondering why wallets were so large, but carried so little.
“The more we thought, the more absurd things seemed. A few essentials shouldn’t take up that much space,” Andrew told Anthill. “Why carry a filing cabinet in your pocket, instead of something slimmer and more efficient?”
“Wallet design has been in deep freeze for a long time, yet what we carry has changed a lot – more cards, less cash and phones as well,” he remarked.
So out of that frustration, together they started Bellroy as a solution to that complacency in design, with a mission to help people find better ways to carry their pocket contents.
Bellroy? Where did they get that name?
The name ‘Bellroy’ is a merging between Bells Beach and Fitzroy, where Bellroy splits their offices and their time between.
Bells Beach, located along Victoria’s Surf Coast, is home to Bellroy’s product design, marketing and sales teams. A creative hub in Melbourne, their Fitzroy space is where their creative division, tech dome and business engine live.
Oh, and speaking of the beach, one other thing these co-founders have in common is that both have a passion for the outdoors, particularly surfing. “It’s no coincidence one of our offices sits right near world-class waves down on the Surf Coast of Victoria.”
What problem is Bellroy solving?
Bellroy set out to get rid of the dreaded hamburger wallet – you know the one that bulges in your back pocket and still has receipts in it from 1986?
Unlike most wallets on the market which cause a massive bulge and kill any suit or denim silhouette, Bellroy wallets eliminate leather and air between your cards to give you a way more elegant wallet.
“Our initial aim is to help people carry everything they need in less space,” Andrew said.
“For wallets, that means differentiating between storage and access: the cards you rarely use get stacked together, eliminating the need for excess leather between each one, while the few cards you use each day sit at the front in easy-reach slots,” he explained.
Andrew believes that what sets Bellroy apart from their competitors is their focus on wallets, and wallets alone.
“The majority of companies who produce clothing throw a few token leather pieces (or whatever) in there for good measure,” he explained. “Wallets and other carry items are more of a sideline, than genuinely being core to their business.”
What is the story behind Bellroy?
Before they launched Bellroy, Andrew and Hadrien started an online carry community called Carryology.
“It grew like crazy, which not only gave us confidence that a company focussed entirely on carry could survive, but made us realise that wallets were where we could make the most difference,” Andrew revealed to Anthill.
The pair developed and prototyped their wallet for about a year before actually launching – they launched mostly online, with only a few brick and mortar retailers in Australia.
Using direct sales to help build the brand amongst a core group of customers, Bellroy steadily increased their ‘real world’ retail footprint as well.
Today, they ship their unique wallets to pretty much anywhere in the world, with over 600 stores carrying the brand in over 100 countries, including the likes of Nordstrom, Barneys, MoMA New York and Loft in Japan.
The company has grown from just five people at a dining room table who posted out each order by hand to around 50 full-time staff with loads more freelancers on the team.
Their launch pad, Carryology has gone on to grow into its own beast, with independent contributors from all over the world sharing ideas on how to improve how we cart our essentials around.
Bellroy, whose product offering has grown from five to 11 styles, now averages close to a million unique visits a month. “We’ve had web traffic from Antarctica, that’s pretty wild.”